How to Record a House Concert

So, some time ago on my other blog I wrote about my musician friend Shannon Curtis when she released a live album {which you can still get for free here}. Now she’s fundraising for the release of her new studio album, so in order to make you like it enough to contribute, here’s that aforementioned blog entry.

I love going to Shan’s concerts to hear her new stuff, just her and the piano (-ish keyboard); too many times I’ve heard the finished studio product and didn’t like the drums or other accompaniments, so I’m taking this album as a personal shoutout from Jamie and Shan to me.
Shannon had previously released a CD of just her and the piano, one take in studio {which I reviewed here} but this recording takes it the logical step further, live in front of an audience. I assume it really helps when your hubby is a sound engineer, who gets paid to record, master, and even sometimes accompany a band to do their live sound. . . gee, I wonder how they met. . .
This CD is so good I forgive her for not having a FrontYardFest this summer. . . but pet peeve alert: checking the track listing, one might think some of these songs are extended versions, six minutes or longer. Nope, still a three to four minute song, with the rest being banter about the upcoming song, which is no big deal if you’re listening to the whole album straight through, but if you choose individual songs to put on your portable player, then you get a lot of extra stuff you wish you didn’t. Obviously you can’t start a track with a long explanation of the song, but one thing I’ve seen work is having the exposition as a separate track.

1 Waking Up with You
A cappella; heard it like this live, love it just as much here.
If I have a dream, it’s always a pretty good dream, if it ends with waking up with you.
2 Wasted
Keyboard is sounding very Wurly. . . as I recall, this was written for her hubby.
Even though it costs so much/I’m a debtor for one last touch.
Song ends around 4:25, so almost 2 minutes of talk about how romantic Oregon is, which leads to how she wrote this next song. . .
3 Boomerangs & Seesaws
It’s still amazing to me that this incredible song is actually beaten by another in Shannon’s musical arsenal.
The irony is it’s the scene I’d write, every day in May June. . . July, when I still hoped there was a you and I. . . in the stars.
Another minute and half of explaining, talking about how Arizona looks like the moon. But instead of the song I was expecting here from that intro, she talks about the couple she wrote the next song for. . .
4 Brightest Light of the Room
The Wurly sound makes the intro sound sorta disco-ish here.
Across the deserts and over oceans, you will be my spark of hope.
5 Love is an Earthquake
New song; was not expecting there to be an unknown tune on here. As usual, it takes me a while to warm up to a song, so I can’t say yet how much I like it.
Love shakes your foundation.
One minute of talking about how she made a video for the next song. . .
6 Let’s Stay In
As I recall, the video is actually quite entertaining. I do find the chorus a bit awkward lyrically.
This is how time stands still, hearts racing on the thrill.
Almost three minutes of enjoying the “Woo!” then talking about coming up with the next song in the shower, followed by the usual story of the financial world collapsing.
7 Lay Me Down
Another that I can’t believe is only about my third fave, but that just shows how amazing Shan is.
Though this is the last of all my breaths, it’s the best one of my life.
8 Before the Sun
There’s my fave. . . and really, what more can I say?
Hope awakes as fear is fast asleep.
Almost two minutes’ talk about how different South Pasadena is from El Lay, and the sad story of a neighbor. Hits close to me because I’ve been to Shan’s house and probably met this person. . .
9 Anti-Gravity
So it’s not a love song, which is unusual for her. The artwork for this song is minimalist and kinda funny. Parts of this, I find, make me think “Brightest Light” is back on.
I don’t want to walk around in a town that forgot your name.
Over two minutes of growing up listening to Amy Grant and how the next song got recorded by Charlie Peacock.
10 Why Don’t You Stay?
Her most straightforward song; no hidden subtle messages here.
Why don’t you stay just a little bit longer, just a little bit closer, till the end of the song?
Half a minute of explaining how you shouldn’t break down on a dark desert highway—with no Hotel California nearby—even if you get a song out of it.
11 So Many Stars
Possibly her slowest song, until she gets to the chorus, which changes to an almost musicbox sound.
It’s easier telling secrets in the dark, with so many stars.
A little less than a minute of the fans sad that we’ve arrived at the last song, as well as how many miles are on the famous Jetta.
12 Book of Fiction
She calls it a song about what might have been in another time, another place. Starts with a Police song title. . . I’ll let you guess which one before you read further, because this time I’m including the full lyrics, I love them so much:
Don’t stand so close to me
We make electricity
And it would help if you’d say something
Instead of staring at me with those eyes
It’s getting harder for me to disguise
That I’d like to feel your lips on mine

Maybe in another country
Maybe on a distant shore
Maybe if I’d made a left instead
Or wandered through a different door
Maybe on a faraway planet
In a futuristic time
Maybe in a book of fiction, I’d have been yours

Don’t be so interesting
Or smart, and kind, and funny
I’m having trouble remembering
Why I can’t just walk over and say
“Whatcha doing the rest of the day?
How about you and me run away?”

Maybe in an ancient temple
On the sound of an unheard prayer
Maybe if I’d answered “yes” instead
Or followed a whim somewhere
Maybe in a mountain kingdom
Where the people speak in rhyme
Maybe in a book of fiction, I’d have been yours

The story goes like this
We meet and then we kiss
And then it goes, how stories go
Till happily it ends

Maybe in an Argo vessel
In the light of the farthest star
Maybe we’ll be born again someday
And I’ll remember who you are
Maybe on a desert island
In an era before our time
Maybe in a book of fiction, I’d have been yours
And you’d have been mine
Maybe in a book of fiction you’d have been mine
{And we slowly fade away. . . }

;o)

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